The doctor who treated Martin Salia, the Sierra Leonean physican who died of Ebola last week after being transported to Omaha, has contracted the disease himself.
Komba Songu M’Briwa cared for Salia, his colleague and former professor, at Freetown’s Hastings Ebola Treatment Center before Salia, whose family lives in New Carrollton, was transported to the United States.
After Salia’s initial Ebola test came back negative, M’Briwa said employees “were celebrating” by embracing him. Salia’s subsequent test came back positive, meaning they had been unknowingly exposed to the virus.
It’s not certain that was how M’Briwa contracted Ebola.
M’Briwa is the ninth Sierra Leonean doctor to be diagnosed with the disease. He was a top physician at Hastings, one of the country’s largest Ebola treatment centers, with 120 beds.
Reached by phone, his mother-in-law, Theresa, said the family wasn’t sure how M’Briwa had contracted the disease. She described his condition as stable. He is now at Hastings as a patient.
“We’re worried because he was living with his small children and his wife,” said Theresa, who declined to give her last name. “We’re all tormented.”
The positive results were delivered yesterday, but M’Briwa had been symptomatic for several days, she said.
M’Briwa has a 5-year-old son and a 3-year-old daughter.
In an interview with The Post earlier this month, he expressed frustration at Salia’s first negative test, which he said might have endangered his colleagues, who then assumed it was safe to touch him.
“If the test says you are Ebola-free, we assume you are Ebola-free,” he said.
In many cases, a negative test at that stage means nothing because “there aren’t enough copies of the virus in the blood for the test to pick up,” said Ermias Belay, the head of the CDC’s Ebola response team in Sierra Leone.
The World Health Organization reported this week that there were 1,339 Ebola cases reported in the 21 days prior to Nov. 23rd in Sierra Leone.